That L.A. Times dustup over editorial page editor Andres Martinez putting the high hard one to 42 West publicist Kelly Mullens has been the thing to talk about for the last 24 hours. That’s due to their relationship having created a slight appearance of unseemly influence regarding the Times having chosen producer Brian Grazer — whom Mullens has been working for, being a client of 42 West– to be a “guest editor” of Sunday’s L.A. Times‘ Current section.

L.A. Observed correspondent Kevin Roderick reportedly broke the story, but it’s been covered much more throughly and interestingly by Deadline Hollywood Daily‘s Nikki Finke, to judge by last night’s posting.

It’s a fun story (soap-opera tawdry, house of Borgia) to write about, and yes, “appearances” of impropriety and undue influence are no small thing, but it’ doesn’t seem like much of a big deal to me. This town runs on gimmes, mutual back-scratchings, sweetheart relationships and so on. Imperial Rome worked that way also; ditto ancient Athens.